Chapter 2 <cont'd>
Amon Homeship Transcendant
Donald Sandhurst stood alongside Nestrala on the command deck of the former Borg cube. The Amon monitoring various systems were reclined upon couch-like settees, their minds linked to the central nexus through which the crew controlled the ship by means of a cooperative, consensual dream-like state.
It was a perversion of the captured Borg vinculum, the use of which allowed the Amon to establish a limited ‘collective’ consciousness for the purposes of operating the mighty ship.
There were no viewports or display screens in the warmly decorated chamber, and thus no possibility of Sandhurst illicitly divining the means by which they were able to travel nearly instantaneously from the Large Magellanic Cloud to the Delta Quadrant of the Milky Way Galaxy.
Warlord Jalahar, the tribe’s leader, stood resolutely in the center of the chamber, arms folded across his massive chest. A small band worn across his right temple gave him access to the mental symphony surrounding him as navigators, systems advocates, engineers and warriors all labored in unison to command the energies propelling the great cube.
“We have located your vessel, Zeischt,” Nestrala said in an encouraging voice. “Though we have been tracking its whereabouts for days, we’ve had to negotiate permissions with our fellow tribe to enter its present star system.”
Sandhurst shot Nestrala a curious glance. “Whatever for?”
“Your ship is in close proximity to an installation our fellow tribe uses as a hunting lure.”
He turned to examine her with an appraising expression. “Hunting lure?”
“The space station is the kind of target that would be appetizing to resource poor refugee fleets entering your quadrant. When they approach, they are ambushed by the station’s defenses, while the tribe absorbs their life-essence through their collection arrays.”
Sandhurst’s eyes widened in recognition. “In’Drahn station!” he exclaimed.
She acknowledged his epiphany with the slightest of nods, “Just so.”
“It was an Amon collection array that killed two of my crew,” Sandhurst’s breathed as another wave of realization swept over him.
Nestrala, lacking any information on that matter, remained silent.
A deep rumbling, rising in tempo, could be felt moving through the giant vessel.
“We go,” Warlord Jalahar announced, “now.”
As the diplomatic team stepped out of the transporter room and into the corridor, T’Ser tugged open the collar of her dress whites uniform jacket. “At the very least, the fact that they’re delaying their decision means that their assembly members might actually take the time to debate the merits of our request.”
Pell likewise unfastened the chafing neckline of her garment. “Let’s hope so. I’d rather we have the Habertaem’s consent before poking the Amon’s array with a stick. That way if everything goes sideways on us, we won’t be thrusting them into a war of our making involuntarily.”
Lar’ragos frowned in the Bajoran’s direction. “You sound as though you don’t approve.”
Pell turned to face Lar’ragos, her expression equal parts analytical and skeptical. “These people have achieved a level of stability after having been slaves for generations. Now we’re asking them to allow us to provoke the most powerful beings they’ve ever encountered.” Pell then looked to T’Ser. “We’re really willing to potentially unleash hell on an entire civilization over the fate of a single person?”
,” T’Ser reminded her sternly.
Pell met her gaze with an unwavering intensity. “You’re
our captain now, sir.”
Lar’ragos eyed Pell warily. “Ojana, I know for a fact that you’re as worried as the rest of us about Donald’s fate. Why are you arguing against this?”
“Because I’m the diplomatic officer,” Pell shot back heatedly. “I’m the one tasked with seeing the bigger picture here. My heart bleeds for Donald, even more so because of how our relationship ended. But despite the fact that I love him and always will, even I realize that the math just doesn’t add up. Endangering the welfare of a species for the life of an individual is purest selfishness, and if Donald were here right now he’d tell both of you the same!”
That brought both T’Ser and Lar’ragos up short. The two officers stood there in Pell’s sights, neither of them able to formulate a reply to her biting assessment.
The yellow alert chime and the flashing status tell-tails along the bulkhead saved them from further discomfort.
T’Ser’s compin chirped. “Bridge to Captain T’Ser,”
Juneau’s voice prompted.
“Sir, we’ve received a distress call from
Galaxy. They report they’ve come under attack during a First Contact situation. They’ve suffered significant damage and casualties, and are trying to evade pursuit at impulse until they can affect repairs to their warp drive.”
“Fourteen hours, forty-seven minutes at Warp 9, Captain.”
T’Ser’s face grew pinched. “Damn,” she breathed.
“It appears we’ll have to revisit the matter of the Amon array at a later date,” Pell remarked with just a hint of satisfaction.
The captain chose to ignore the jibe. “Let’s get to the bridge.”